Fun Things to Do with Your Dog
With every new year that we experience perhaps a new year’s resolution should also include new fun things to do with your dog.
After all, they are a huge part of our lives so it makes sense to include them in something new that will stretch them and keep them interested in learning and developing.
With this in mind, we have 10 great things that we can explore together with our dogs and help them and us as owners have a fresh approach to the new year and decade.
1. Explore A New Local Walk
Walking your dog on a regular daily route can be really great for you and your dog as it is routine and your dog may really enjoy the route and it gives them and you that all-important daily, regular exercise and familiarity with their surroundings.
However, it can also get predictable and a bit boring for you both.
It is easy to get into a dog walking rut because of this, it can become dull and something that neither of you gets too excited about.
When things become too routine, it is easy for them to slip and we want to avoid this happening.
Physical exercise is hugely important for our dogs as this is the best way for them to keep in tip-top shape and to continually stimulate them and keep their interest levels high.
It’s a great way for us to spend quality time with our dogs too and we can get just as much out of the activity as our dogs.
So with that in mind, it is a great idea for us to research new routes and try to discover new sights, sounds and sniffs in a totally new area or location altogether.
Try and find a way to vary your regular walks too.
Something I do is to do the same walk in reverse although, this can confuse your dog at first, this is good for them as it adds variety.
Do some local research and actively look for new routes and try them out.
Facebook is also good for posting questions in your local dog-walking groups or indeed ask other dog walkers where they go as this can often be a great way to find out about hidden gems of walks.
Something you could do is to make a list of walks and always have them at hand for differing weather conditions.
The point here is to vary and always look for new walks and walking ideas.
Your dog will be happy you did.
2. Take Up A New Dog Sport…….Or Try One You Have Never Done Before!
Up until recent times, the only real dog sport available for most owners was Dog Agility. This is a great sport and should be encouraged, although it is highly competitive and can be quite an intimidating sport to get into, especially for differing breeds of dogs.
Thankfully, over the last few years, there has been a huge increase in the number of dog sports available for keen owners and their dogs to try with a much more relaxed approach to the competitive edge, and this has made them surge in popularity.
The emphasis on these sports is mostly fun and stimulation for your dog with the added benefit of bonding and reward for both of you.
It really is not an issue with what breed of dog you have either and this has also added to the popularity surge.
In the UK, The Kennel Club can give you great information about what kinds of sports/activities are available and these can include agility classes, flyball, heelwork to music, rally and working trials.
A quick internet search will also provide you with local clubs near you (training clubs) that can also give you really useful information on other sports such as hoopers, treiball, scent work, pet gundog classes, and dog parkour among others!
There really is a huge range of sports activities for your dog to do and the best advice is to try as many as you can and try each one at least three times. If you both enjoy it or your dog enjoys it more, then that is a great indicator that the activity is a winner for your dog.
Locally down here in Cornwall, there have been a few items on the local news about dog swimming so that may also be an activity that is happening near you.
It involves local pools opening-up their facilities entirely for owners and dogs to swim and play together. It’s too cold for many of the outdoor pools to be open to the public for around 3 or 4 months of the year, but this novel idea involves dogs and their wet-suit clad owners having a dip and it can make some cash for the pool too!
A lot of dogs love water so this may well be something that you could consider getting involved with.
Again, a quick Google search of “Dog Swimming Near Me” could provide results where ever you are in the world.
Check out this great video about a rehab pool in Oregon.
3. Take Your Dog On Holiday.
Many of us already do this, but if you have never taken your dog away I can highly recommend it.
Firstly, it saves you money on kennel fees and they can really add up if you are not careful and secondly, it is peace of mind.
Not everyone enjoys leaving their dog behind so this can be a great thing to consider.
There are more and more dog-friendly hotels and bed and breakfasts popping up everywhere these days and a quick glance on sites like Airbnb will show you that this is a rising trend.
I have taken my dogs all over the UK, Scotland, and Northern France and can highly recommend it as a great way of keeping them stimulated by new things and as an added bonus, it saved a lot of money too.
There are many places that you may not know about such as motel chains and campsites that have changed their business model to suit dog owners as more of us want to travel and take our dogs too.
Again, a bit of research will yield you some quite interesting results and also give you some great ideas for new travel options and holidays.
4. Start Using Interactive Dog Toys.
One the absolute best ways to bond with your dog is through play. Thankfully, product companies have realized this and over the last few years, they have developed a huge range of interactive toys that both stimulate your dog physically and also mentally.
Most of these puzzling games/toys involve the principle of to find and ultimately, liberate food as a reward for solving the task.
There are so man places that you can get these great toys and a quick look online on Amazon, our store or you local pet store will reveal a treasure trove of great toys that you can get at reasonable prices.
These toys and games can vary from simple to fiendishly difficult for your dog to solve and depending on your dog’s level of intelligence, they can be a great way to stretch them mentally.
Dogs will need to use both their paws and mouths to solve some of these gadgets and this can be really great for them to learn and use new skills in order to get their just reward.
As I said before, they can also be relatively low cost too and as pointed out in a previous article about dog toys, you can vary them and introduce new ones in order to keep your dog entertained.
For instance, you can use safe household items like empty toilet roll cardboards that you can fill the ends and pop some treats inside, shake them and then watch your dog rip them open to get the treat..a bit messy, but fun to watch!
Another great way is to make your own toys from old t-shirts and towels and pop treats inside pouches that your dog has to nose open to get the treat out.
The secret to this kind of play is that you are working with your dog and actually helping them to find the treat, again and again, this really helps with bonding with them.
There are plenty of great videos on Youtube that show you how to make and do cheap toys for your dog and they are well worth checking out.
5. Feed Your Dog In A Different Way
For most dogs, feeding time can be the absolute highlight of the day!
As soon as the dinner bowl comes out or indeed the rustle of the food bag sends my dog nuts and he makes haste to the kitchen for his well-earned grub!
In recent years, my dog does graze and eat a bit slower and this is much better for him, but if you have one of those dogs who wolfs down their food, this can be something we want to avoid.
Our dogs were not designed to eat rapidly and we really need to understand that in the past a dog was a natural scavenger. They would of spent a lot of time hunting out food and then spent time chewing and gnawing on their find and this was a much better way for them to digest.
My dog loves nothing better than a bovine neck bone that usually takes him around three hours to finish off. It keeps him entertained too!
By changing the way you feed your dog and even if you do this just on an occasional basis, it will add a bit of interest to their day and stimulate their brain (as well as the stomach) and this can help improve the eating behavior (chewing has a relaxing effect on dogs) and it can make dinner time last longer and this really does help with digestion.
As a Greyhound owner, I have to be careful with my dog as he used to try to bolt his food down and this can cause a twist in the stomach that can cause problems of a serious medical nature that need to be avoided.
Smaller portions of food can help if your dog is a binge-eater.
It is important to remember that we as dog owners do have a tendency to overfeed our dogs and this can be difficult to avoid.
Try to vary the location that your dog has their food in too as this will make it a bot more interesting for them as well.
These bowls make the food time fun and also slow down those fast eating dogs! Inexpensive too!
Hand-feeding is another great way to keep your dog interested. Sometimes if I have some cooked chicken I will hand feed it to my dog and he responds really well.
It is another meal plus it builds trust and bonding between you.
When I first got my Greyhound he would really snatch the food from my hand but after working with him and bonding, he can now just nibble it off my hand and this is great progress.
Which leads us nicely onto..
6. Working To Improve The Bond Between You And Your Dog
All of the things we have mentioned here thus far are really great ways for you to improve your bond with your dog. The bond is vital for all aspects of your life together.
If your dog trusts you and sees you as their leader, their alpha then they are much, much easier to train and this makes for a much happier and calmer dog.
Dogs really want to please us so it is up to us as responsible owners to reciprocate this trust.
And we can do that by learning new ways of bonding or just introduce rewards for things they are doing really well at present.
When I take my dog out for a walk to do his business, it never hurts to reinforce his good behavior with a treat/small tidbit.
It lets him know that I am still rewarding him for doing a good thing. This is something that you should consider for your dog’s entire life.
By keeping working at this it continues to build and reinforce positive trust.
7. Try To Attend A Dog Event This Year
Every summer there are usually plenty of adverts locally that promote dog shows or dog-related events.
You can easily attend one of these and they vary in style, competition and if nothing else, they are fun days out where you and your dog can meet other like-minded people and this is also a great way for your dog to interact with other dogs too.
Dogs are social creatures and it is very good for them to build confidence and also have new stimulation, smells and things to look at.
The offshoot of these events has no limit either. You could probably go to one every weekend if you wanted too and they are also great ways to find out interesting information from other owners about other shows they go to or indeed, great places to walk
your dog too.
They really are excellent days out, so try one and I am sure you will go back for more…and your dog might even win one of these!
8. Housekeeping- Time To Check The Kit
It is always important to keep an eye on and inspect your dog’s collar, lead, coat and anything else that you have associated with them on a regular basis.
If leads are looking old, frayed and a bit tired, please don’t wait until they break before replacing them..this could have tragic consequences.
Be proactive and replace things before they need replacing. If something is looking worn, replace it. Your dog’s life could depend on it.
9. Try To Introduce A New Exercise Every Month
Like their human counterparts, dogs never stop learning and we often really underestimate just how clever they are. I have stated before that dogs are smart and they really are.
You only have to look at some of the TV shows where unruly dogs are brought back into line by positive training, so this shows us that they CAN learn new things.
People will tell you that you can only train your dog when they are young and this is a myth. A dog can be trained at any time in their lives.
It is better to try to get the training right when they are young but this is not always possible for a variety of reasons.
Introducing new training exercises helps to keep your dog happy and involved in your life together. It shows them that you want to interact with them too, and again, I know we keep saying it but a dog that has bonded with you and the family that you may have in your home is generally, the happiest dog alive!
By constantly stretching your dog’s mind it increases their brain function and they will be able to achieve things that you may have thought impossible.
As always, all training must be reward-based and fun to do. Don’t push your dog too hard either, it will come with practice so just keep getting involved and the results will speak for themselves.
10. Get Involved With A Charity And Help Other Dogs!
This is simply a great thing to do for all of the obvious reasons. You may have skills that will really help a charity and they are always in need of extra walkers and people who love dogs as much as they do.
From your perspective, it is a win-win. You will learn so much more about dogs and other breeds too. This will only make your knowledge grow and that can never be a bad thing.
It’s a sad fact that there are more and more dogs in need of help and this is down to the throw-away society that we have created and unfortunately, dogs are one of the animals that get thrown away….a lot.
Not all dogs are lucky enough to end up in a rescue center so by helping out you are really helping to contribute an antidote to this all too often miserable event.
There are many many dog charities, rescue organizations, and charities that help people with lower incomes too with veterinary treatment and sometimes it may be that people have trouble getting their pets to the vet, so this could be something you could offer also (if you have transport).
There are so many charities that cover pretty much all kinds of reasons that dogs need help, from financial to the loss of owners, etc.
Charities need your help all the time and your time may be very busy, so consider making a regular financial donation to a charity either online or locally.
The money is greatly needed and makes a huge difference to the charities and dogs themselves.
I myself run an online store that specializes in dog gear and we donate 20% of whatever our sales figures are to charities in the UK and the US and this can make a big difference to the lives of dogs in their care.
It is also a good thing to do.
It’s not all about money though, gifting bedding, food and toys can really help too and you never know where that will lead either.
I know of some people who started doing this and now they are pretty much full time as dog carers and work in this field as a profession, so you never know it could actually make you change career!
The point is that you start to think of not only doing new things with your dog but to also think about dogs in general.
After all, you are on this site and I hope that that you enjoy the articles and want to read more, which is kind of the point of this really.